Philippines’ Approaches to the South China Sea Disputes: International Arbitration and the Challenges of a Rule-Based Regime
The Philippine decision to place its South China Sea maritime dispute with China under the compulsory arbitrations process of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has, arguably enhanced the complexity of the two-decade-long multi-party dispute. It highlights the challenges of developing a “rules-based regime” by introducing binding international legal process to the already convoluted and multi-layered issue. Less than a month after receiving the Philippines’ Notice to Arbitrate along with its Statement of Claims at the Chinese Embassy in Manila on 21 January 2013, Beijing informed Manila that it was rejecting arbitration and urged instead a return to bilateral consultations and negotiations (GMA News, 2013). Manila’s decision was driven by fears of its inability to effectively counter Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in pursuing its claims. Seeking to gain international support while reducing its impact on overall PhilippineChina relations, Manila insists that arbitration is “the most peaceful, durable and lasting solution” to their maritime disputes. However, far from easing tensions, it is raising even more complex legal, political, and security issues, and untangling them is critical to the management of the disputes and the maintenance of stability in the region.
KeywordsExclusive Economic Zone Arbitral Tribunal Official Gazette Presidential Decree ASEAN Regional Forum
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